Huang, Ching-Yu Soar & Lamb, Michael E. (2013). Did Children do What They Were Asked to do? - Cross-Culture Comparisons of Parenting and Child Compliance Among Taiwanese, Immigrant Chinese and English Mother-Child Interactions. The Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. Seattle. (2013/04/16-22).
Children’s compliance is regarded as an important indicator of children’s socialization, indicating children’s internalization of social values and social norms (Kochanska,1995; 2002). Parents initially help their children exercise control and restraint through issuing frequent requests and directives (Kuczynski & Kochanska, 1990; Kochanska, 2002), gradually, control comes to be mediated by internal factors (Kochanska,1995; 2002). In Chinese culture, self-control and compliance is emphasised in a more absolute and consistent manner, and children are taught to obey their parents from an early age (Chao, 1995; Ho, 1986; Luo, 1997). The links between parenting and child compliance have been examined in Western societies, however, research is still scarce in Chinese societies. Given the different socialisation goals and expectations between Chinese and Western societies, we hypothesised that Chinese children would show higher level of compliance when they are asked to carry out a task by their parent.
Eighty-nine (30 Taiwanese, 30 Chinese immigrant, and 29 English) 5-to-7-year-old children (mean age: 6.08, SD= 0.82, 45 boys and 44 girls) and their mothers participated in this study. Mothers in these three groups were matched with respect to the age and gender of their children, family SES (based on parental occupation and parents’ level of education) and children’s birth order.The mothers completed the Child Behaviour Questionnaire (CBQ-Short-form, Putnam & Rothbart, 2006) and the mother-child dyads were observed at their home by the experimenter. Their interactions were video-recorded and then analysed by trained researchers. The observation task and behavioural coding were designed by Kochanska et al (1999) to assess children's compliance and mothers' disciplinary strategies in the “Do” context, when the child was asked by the mother to tidy up the toys in the play area for 10 minutes. Children's compliance was coded every 30 second into 3 mutually exclusive codes: committed compliance, situational compliance, or opposition. Mothers' disciplinary strategies were coded every 30 second into 3 mutually exclusive codes: gentle guidance, control or forceful/negative control.
Multivariate analyses of covariance (MANCOVA) were used to examine the differences in maternal disciplinary strategies and child compliance across different cultures while partialling out the effect of child age and temperament. The results showed a significant multivariate effect of cultural group (F(2, 84)= 2.927, Pillai-Bartlett trace= .360 , p = .001, η = .180). Follow-up univariate analyses of covariance (ANCOVAs, see Table 1) with Bonferroni correctionsshowed that there were significant cultural differences in children's situational compliance and mothers' use of control and forceful/negative control: the Taiwanese children showed more situational compliance than the Chinese immigrant children, and the English mothers used less control and less forceful/negative control than the Taiwanese mothers. Correlational analyses (controlling for the effect of child age and surgency, see Table 2) were conducted to assess the associations between maternal disciplinary strategies and child compliance among different cultural groups. Results revealed that the patterns of associations between maternal discipline and child compliance differed across cultures. Therefore, our results not only showed the cultural differences in maternal and child behaviour, but also demonstrated that the same parental behaviour might have different effects in different cultures.